by Sarah Krivel | Nov 16, 2018 | Goals, Operations, Processes, Team Management
People might think of running a business as a solo endeavor, but the truth is that none of us can do it alone. In order to make a big impact in or contribution to the world, we need to share our vision with others, inspiring and motivating them to join us. This is leadership: creating a shared future together and working to implement it. And all of that happens in communication.
After returning from the Institute for Generative Leadership’s Foundations Workshop, the essence of leadership has never been clearer to me. While the program is truly an immersive experience, and one that I highly recommend business owners and leadership teams attend, I had a few key takeaways that I want you to start benefiting from now. So here are my thoughts distilled into three key questions for your team to ask every day to create strong communication and therefore greater business success:
1. What do we care about?
What we care about as individuals shapes every aspect of our life and work. When we’re connected with what we care about, we have value, meaning and satisfaction in our lives. When we don’t, we feel unfulfilled, unsatisfied and unhappy.
Similarly, every business owner gets into business to take care of something, to solve some need we identified in the world, and to do it our way. When we live and work in alignment with that care, things click and make sense, and we’re able to find flow. When we are surrounded by team members whose care is in line with ours and see them contributing to it, we flourish.
Yet so often, we’re distracted or cut off from our care. We bring team members into our organizations without clearly articulating our care or taking the time to understand theirs. Or we post our care on walls and in notebooks without living it day in and day out. The result is breakdown and burnout.
Define your care and keep it front and center every day. Don’t merely state it. Live it.
2. What shared language and understanding do we need?
Everyday we throw around words like “customer satisfaction,” “revenue” and “team.” Business conversations and meetings focus on the “how” around these ideas. How to increase customer satisfaction. How to bring in more revenue. How to build a team. But what if I have a different definition of what customer satisfaction is than you do? How can we possibly get on the same page when our language is not aligned?
We often make the unconscious assumption that others see the world how we do, because our history and our stories are so close to us. We fail to realize that there are other histories and other stories that shape the way those around us see the world — and the way they define words.
Generate a shared understanding of what words mean. Ask “what” before “how.”
3. What are our standards?
When standards are assumed and not spoken, it’s the same as asking other people to be mind readers. It’s simply unfair and unrealistic. When we assume that someone understands what we’ve never stated, we can bet that communication will break down. That in turn generates waste, dissatisfaction and distrust.
Our teams make many promises every day – to team members, promises to customers and vendors. In order for these promises to be trustworthy and shape the right action, we need to ensure that our standards mean the same thing to everyone on the team.
Clearly define and articulate your standards.
All of these questions manifest themselves in communication – the conversations we have, and the conversations that are missing. With alignment on care, a shared language to use in expressing that care, and commitment to standards, you have a “we” orientation from which to create the future together, one small step at a time.
Could your business use guidance in how to build better communication that drives success? Contact Kleriti Business Solutions today. We’ll help ensure that your team members have a shared understanding of future goals and how to reach them.
by Sarah Krivel | Mar 9, 2018 | Accountability, Operations, Team Management
Have you ever worked at a company where you were often in the dark about what was going on? Maybe the head honchos misled you, saying business was great just a week before dozens of people were laid off. Or maybe it was hard to do your job to your highest potential because the boss wasn’t up front with you about all of the goals.
You probably started to feel disengaged from the organization and your job. Ultimately, you left.
Now you’ve got a business of your own (go you!) and you want to do it better. Fortunately, you have the benefit of having seen from the other side how detrimental it is when business leaders are closed off and secretive.
When companies develop a culture of transparency and trust, employees feel more invested, and the business can thrive. Team members are comfortable coming to leadership with questions, concerns and fresh ideas.
You know you want this great company culture. Now how do you go about creating it? Here are 5 practices to get into right away:
- Walk the walk. As a business owner, it’s important that you lead by example. Employees look for you to show them what’s acceptable and expected in the organization. So if you say you want a culture of openness, you need to be transparent with your staff in good times and bad — and all the times in between. Starting with you, your company’s leadership should act with intention and in ways that align with the message you want to send.
- Follow through. A huge component of building trust is proving yourself by doing what you say you’re going to do, not just talking about it. This is important for every member of your team. Whether it’s an internal or external commitment, your team members need to follow through on what they say they’re going to do, every time. This way, clients, partners, vendors and team members know your organization can be counted on when it matters most.
- Knock down walls. OK, not literally! Instead, take a hard look at your organization’s structure. Are departments siloed off from one another? Is there a lack of clear communication paths between team members? If you answered yes to either question, then your company has a transparency problem that’s likely holding you back. Full transparency and an open-book policy are imperative for maximum growth.
- Align behind common goals. The best way to reach goals is to put as much focus and power behind them as possible. Consider this: If your sales team is focused on selling a particular service this quarter, and your marketing campaigns are promoting a different service, neither initiative will be as successful as it could be. Instead, pursue alignment. Clearly communicate goals to your whole team, do so regularly and openly track progress toward reaching them. This will help everyone feel more invested in the goal and more driven to hit the target.
- Motivate and reward. Do you know what motivates your employees? If your answer is money, you’re certainly not alone, but you are probably wrong — sorry! For ages, employers expected money to get them the output they wanted from workers. But for most of us — think of what motivates you, for example — it’s about something more. It could be any number of things for your employees, from finding meaning in their work to building relationships to solving problems. Tap into what makes team members tick and reward them for behaviors and outputs that align with company goals.
When you hit each of these targets in your business, you might be surprised by how many personnel challenges and growth hurdles fade away.
Do you want an open, trusting company culture but struggle to create it? Tell us about your challenges in the comments below.
by Sarah Krivel | Feb 9, 2018 | Goals, Operations, Team Management
Does the winter weather have you dreaming about warm, sandy beaches? Or do you long to hit the open road for a month-long summer adventure while the kids are out of school? You might think that all sounds great, but just isn’t doable — that your business can’t survive without you there.
You aren’t alone in that feeling.
According to a 2014 study from OnDeck, only 57 percent of small business owners planned to take a vacation that year, and 90 percent planned to take two weeks or less off — less than the average employee!
Likely one of the big reasons you started your own business was to take control of your schedule and find freedom — and to actually take those dream vacations. Ah, the irony!
Well, you’ve come to the right place. We are here to tell you that it IS possible! You can run a successful business and also take time for those memorable vacations that recharge and inspire you.
Here are 3 keys to implement in your business that will allow you to take a stress-free vacation.
1. Hire right. Train well.
It can get frustrating to hunt for the “right” employee, but hiring the wrong one can cost you time, money and your sanity. Take time to identify the characteristics and skills of the ideal fit, and don’t hire someone who isn’t the best fit because you’re getting impatient. If you make the right hire the first time around, it will pay off big-time.
Not finding the ideal candidate? You may need to rewrite the job posting to accurately reflect your needs, as well as your organization’s culture. Also consider where the ideal candidate for that position looks for jobs. You may need to change up how and where you search for candidates to find the right one.
Once you find the right person, the second half of the equation for success is training. Have systems in place to seamlessly onboard new hires, and get them up to speed and comfortable with their responsibilities as quickly as possible. Make sure training covers the organization as a whole, as well as the employee’s specific piece of the puzzle.
2. Document everything (seriously, everything).
If you want to step onto a plane, train or automobile, the people who are left to run the day-to-day operations in your absence need to know exactly what to do to keep the business functioning as smoothly as it would if you were there. The more you can spell out for them, the better. This way, just about anything can come up and your employees will know how to handle it without panicking or interrupting your beach time. You will also feel more relaxed if you know that they have the tools to tackle anything that comes their way, in the way that you approve of.
But don’t wait until the week before your vacation to start creating your operations manual. Start to document the processes of how your business does everything it does, day in and day out. This includes how to onboard new clients, deliver your service, resolve issues/complaints — the list goes on and on.
3. Drive focus.
When every member of your team is clear on the organization’s goals and the strategy in place to achieve them, it’s much easier for everyone to row in the same direction and at the same speed.It’s imperative to drive time and resources to activities that support reaching these goals, and to de-prioritize anything that does not. Getting into this practice while you’re around helps set team members up for success when you’re not. When the whole team is clear on where they’re headed, they can be confident in their actions and decision-making while you’re gone. Then when you set sail, hit the road or leave on a jet plane, your team needn’t break their stride.
Letting go can be hard. But if you hire and train the best people, create strong, documented processes, and regularly communicate your goals and strategy, you can feel at ease, and find fun and relaxation wherever your travels take you!
Are you a business owner who doesn’t take the vacations you want to take? Tell us what holds you back in the comments below.
by Sarah Krivel | Jan 12, 2018 | Goals, Operations, Priorities, Team Management
As a business owner, you typically start the new year with promises to yourself that this will be your most successful year yet. If you’ve made similar promises in past years but didn’t follow through, it’s time to consider what went wrong, so this can finally be THE year — YOUR year. Not sure what’s slowing you down? Here are 5 ways to stop standing in the way of your own success.
1. You delegate responsibility without authority. Delegating duties can be amazingly freeing, allowing you to focus your efforts on other, more appropriate priorities. But delegating work can actually set your business back if the person you assign to do a job doesn’t have the authority to make necessary decisions that go along with the work. This leads to bottlenecks, with the person coming back to you for your OK, rather than being empowered to move forward independently. To keep things moving, be intentional and thorough when you delegate work, and make sure to give the appropriate authority along with the responsibility.
2. You’re staying in the work. As the saying goes, working in the business is different than working on the business. Think about why you launched your organization in the first place. If you want to grow a successful business that thrives even when you’re not around (think beach vacation!), you cannot be the one depended on to manage client accounts every day. To build a sustainable organization, get the right people in the right roles with the right training and the right systems to do the work, and relinquish control to them so that you can serve a higher purpose.
3. You lack focus and defined priorities. Ever feel like your attention is being split in a million different directions? It’s next to impossible to do anything really well in business if you aren’t clear on your specific goals. To maintain focus, take the time to define what you want to achieve, and prioritize where your time and energy needs to be spent in order to get there. Intentional action will always be more effective and efficient than throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.
4. You try to do it all. Success in business means knowing what you don’t know. Do you love brainstorming new services to meet your clients’ latest needs but struggle with sales? Hiring a sales manager or sales coach can help take your business to the next level. Not great with accounting? Hire a bookkeeper to track the finances instead of spending your nights fighting with stacks of receipts. To thrive, surround yourself with people whose strengths are your weaknesses, and outsource expertise that doesn’t exist in your organization. Do what you do well, and get help with the rest.
5. You’re stuck in the past. Industries change fast, thanks to new technologies, consumer demands and an ever-evolving economy. Sticking your head in the sand and doing the same thing the same way “because that’s how it’s always been done” can negatively impact your company’s competitiveness and prove dangerous for its longevity. To continue evolving, remain open to new ways of thinking and doing, and be brave enough to think big.
If you recognize any of these obstacles in your business, make it a goal this year to get past them and realize the success you’ve been reaching for. Not sure how? We’re here to help! Click here to contact Kleriti today.
What’s holding you back from achieving your goals? Tell us in the comments below.
by Sarah Krivel | Jul 18, 2017 | Team Management
Do you struggle to inspire the performance you desire out of your teammates? Have you done the hard work to implement processes and systems to support your team, and you’re still not getting the productive output you desire?
At the core of this issue is motivation — why every individual does what he or she does, and what makes him or her “tick.”
For years, business owners have relied on either the carrot (a raise) or the stick (public ridicule) to motivate. And it’s simply not working.
Dan Pink’s inspiring TED Talk, The Puzzle Of Motivation, provides incredibly valuable insight into the important difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. He argues that the carrot and the stick work only in a very narrow set of circumstances when the task is incredibly simplistic and requires no creative or conceptual thinking. When the task requires this type of thinking, traditional extrinsic motivation simply does not work.
When I ask clients what motivates a specific team member they’re having issues with, what deep down inside of him or her drives his or her behavior, the initial answer 9 times out of 10 is “money.” And I call b.s. on that. Yes, everyone works to make a living; to bring home the money they need to support their family, their hobbies, their dreams, etc. But they also work for something else. Something much deeper that lights them up and excites them. Tapping into that thing – that’s the way to get the best out of them.
The owner of a recruiting firm recently complained that one of his recruiters is taking far too long to fill positions. I asked what motivation she has to fill the position sooner. The owner responded that the sooner she fills the position, the sooner she gets paid (theirs is a commission model). Taking this answer at face value, one might consider docking her pay for a missed deadline. But I suspected that something else was amiss. After digging deeper, I learned that what truly moves her is the relationship. The ability to build and maintain a strong relationship with the leaders of the organizations she’s recruiting for. And she had been taken out of that role entirely. She was simply filling orders – calling candidates, updating call status in a system and passing them on to the owner. No relationship and therefore a misalignment in motivation.
Dan Pink advises to pay people adequately and fairly to take the issue of money off the table. Then tap into each individual’s intrinsic motivation to inspire him or her to action.
Each individual’s intrinsic motivation should be at the forefront of your mind as you are:
- Setting up compensation structures
- Goal setting
- Assigning projects/tasks
- Monitoring progress
- Evaluating performance
If you’re not tapping into intrinsic motivation, you’re simply not getting the best from the people that work for you. Can your business afford that?
We’d love to hear stories of how you’ve elevated performance by tapping into team members’ intrinsic motivation. Please share in the comments section below.
by Sarah Krivel | May 10, 2017 | Team Management
Your team is the greatest asset you have as a business owner. Your team keeps your operation running day in and day out, delivering services, addressing client complaints, managing vendor/partner relationships and otherwise keeping the wheels on the bus.
In order for each employee to have clarity on their role and accountabilities, three documents are essential: a job description, an employee handbook and an organizational chart. These documents ensure that team members understand their responsibilities, the policies they must abide by and how their position fits into the organization as a whole.
#1 JOB DESCRIPTION
A job description ensures that potential and existing employees know exactly what you expect of them. It defines a specific role, with documented responsibilities, desired outcomes and physical requirements. It outlines what the employee is accountable for and to whom they are accountable. The job description sets the employee up to be productive from the very beginning of their tenure.
As a role changes, the job description should be updated to reflect the latest reality. This comes in handy during performance conversations and annual review time, where the job description can be used as a measuring stick to objectively evaluate how a team member is performing against expectations.
#2 EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK*
Running a business without an employee handbook is a lot like a football team taking the field without knowing anything about the rules of the game.
How do you expect an employee to follow rules they don’t know? Simple – you can’t. Lack of clearly defined and documented policies leads to frustration and dissatisfaction.
Being clear on the rules of the game, and agreeing to follow them, sets an employee up for success. It also places all team members on a level playing field as it relates to expectations around working conditions, anti-harassment policies, time off, etc.
* Your handbook should be reviewed by an employment attorney prior to release.
#3 ORGANIZATIONAL CHART
It can be very difficult for a team member to know how they fit into the organization as a whole, without and organizational (org) chart. An org chart gives a big-picture view of the team and the reporting structure. It’s like seeing a jigsaw puzzle fully intact.
The org chart also shows an employee where there are opportunities for lateral movement or advancement, giving them something to strive for over the course of their tenure.
It may feel overwhelming, or like a step back, to create these documents. But it’s not. Likely, elements of each already exist. So pull them all together and organize them in an easy-to-follow way. Make sure these documents are always easily accessible. Collectively, they create an infrastructure of clear teammate expectations and accountabilities. Your team will appreciate it, and you’ll no doubt reap the rewards of a more productively run operation.
Not sure when you could possibly find the time to create these documents? Simpler Surroundings works with teams of all sizes to standardize job descriptions, develop teammate handbooks and design organizational charts. Give us a call today.